What stands out?

Renault’s biggest-selling model in Australia, the Koleos shares a chassis, powertrains and spacious interior with the Nissan X-Trail, but is more attractively styled inside and out. It’s also well-equipped, with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone pairing and autonomous emergency braking, that's now standard across the range.

What might bug me?

Having to turn the radio up to hide the annoying sound you sometimes get from the rattly plastics in the boot area.

Not quite getting comfortable enough in the driver’s seat, whose base isn’t long enough to provide full under-thigh support.

Getting tired of so-called friends pointing out your fancy ‘French SUV’ shares mechanicals with the Nissan X-Trail and is built in South Korea.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

The Koleos is available in front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive.

All-wheel drive Koleos’ can drive their front wheels only (for best fuel efficiency), or their rear wheels also whenever the car thinks that’s helpful, or (at low speeds) all four wheels all the time. You choose from these three options (2WD, Auto, and Lock) with a switch on the centre-console.

The Koleos is classified as a medium SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Koleos versions have?

Dual-zone climate control, which allows the driver and front passenger to set their own preferred temperatures.

Renault’s R-Link multimedia system, with 7.0-inch touchscreen and voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring, AM/FM radio, auxiliary and 2x USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and eight speakers.

A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.

Cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning, and high-resolution digital gauge display.

Headlights that switch themselves on when it gets dark, LED daytime running lights, and LED front and rear fog-lamps. Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains.

A proximity key-card, which you can leave in a pocket or bag while unlocking and starting the car.

Hill-start assist, which operates the brakes automatically to make uphill starts easier.

Aluminium alloy wheels, and full-size 17-inch steel spare wheel.

Forward collision warning system (autonomous emergency braking), which warns of a potential collision risk before automatically engaging the brakes via the Koleos’ electronic stability control.

Shark-fin antenna and body-coloured electrically-adjustable door mirrors with demisters.

The Renault Koleos covered by a fiver-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and five-year capped-price servicing and five years' roadside assist.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

All Koleos versions are powered by a 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol is also taken from the Nissan X-Trail. On the official test it uses 8.3 litres/100km when powering an all-wheel drive Koleos, and slightly less (8.1litres/100km) in front-wheel drive form.

It is paired with a CVT automatic transmission. The CVT does without the fixed gear ratios of a conventional automatic, instead adjusting in small increments to meet the driver’s requirements.

The Koleos used to have a more economical 2.0-litre diesel option, though this was dropped from the range in December 2019 for the 2020 model year.

Power outputs and all other specifications for each Renault Clio can be reached from the Cars covered carousel near the top of this review.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly Koleos is the Life which has the petrol engine, front-wheel drive, cloth seat trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, a foot-operated park brake plus the features in any Koleos.

Paying more for a Koleos Zen brings you the front-wheel drive as standard, or all-wheel drive for about $2500 extra.

The Zen adds satellite navigation, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels and push-button start. And front and side parking sensors augment those at the rear.

Seats are trimmed with artificial leather, with front seat warmers and powered adjustments for the driver’s seat including lumbar support. The rear seats fold easily with a one-touch folding system.

The interior gains ambient lighting, and rear doors are fitted with tinted privacy glass.

Doors automatically lock when you walk away from the car while carrying the proximity key-card.

Blind-spot warning alerts you to any cars driving up your side.

Spending more again on a Intens brings you a bigger portrait-orientated 8.7-inch multimedia screen, and a BOSE sound system with four extra speakers, subwoofer and digital amplifier.

You also get a panoramic sunroof, powered hands-free tailgate, chrome exterior trim and fancier 19-inch alloy wheels, and the heated front seats are also ventilated for summer.

The Intens comes standard with a petrol engine and all-wheel-drive, with the petrol and diesel all-wheel-drive powertrains available for an additional cost.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The ride is a little harder on the Intens' 19-inch wheels, because their shorter sidewalls leave less air and rubber between you and the road.

Solid white is the only standard colour on the Life, Zen and Intens. Other colours cost about $900 extra.

How comfortable is the Koleos?

The Koleos has a big cabin for a medium SUV, and even six-footer adults will find enough space in the second row, with plenty of leg, head and knee room available. The front seats lack under-thigh support though. That said it does offer an agreeable driving position with excellent forward vision.

The interior is elegantly designed and boasts a pronounced European flavour. Features like a jalousie (sliding lid) to hide the cupholders and a high-resolution colour digital instrument panel are nice touches.

However, there are plenty of hard, scratchy plastics, most of them on the lower dash and centre console. And then there’s that quirky Renault feature of having the cruise control/speed limiter toggle down on the centre console, which can make it difficult to find while driving.

What about safety in a Koleos?

Every Koleos has stability control, six airbags, auto-on headlights, LED daytime running lights, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and auto emergency braking. It is a rounded package that emphasises crash protection, visibility, crash avoidance, and safe reversing.

There are airbags ahead of the driver and front passenger, to protect them in frontal crashes; one outside each front seat about chest level to protect in side-crashes; and a curtain airbag extending down each side at head level to protect those in the front and second seat rows from side crashes.

The head-protecting side-curtain airbags do not extend to the third row of seats on seven-seat models, however. And while the front and second-row seats have seat-belt reminders, third-row seats have none.

The auto braking fitted to every Koleos uses a radar-type sensor and operates at city and highway speeds. It works in concert with a Forward collision warning, which alerts you if it thinks you are too close to the vehicle in front. If you ignore the warning and the system concludes a crash is imminent, it can apply the brakes automatically, either avoiding the crash or reducing your impact speed.

The Koleos Zen adds front and side parking sensors, and a blind-spot warning, which alerts you to the presence of vehicles near your rear corners that might not show in your mirrors.

The Intens share the safety features of the Zen and add lane keeping assist, which warns of your lane-drift, and attempts to correct it.

All versions of the Renault Koleos were awarded the maximum five star by EuroNCAP. Based on that, ANCAP gave the front-wheel-drive versions a five-star rating for Australia in October 2018, but are still yet to rate the AWD versions.

I like driving - will I enjoy the Koleos?

If you’re expecting perky engine performance of some of the smaller Renault models you’ll be a little disappointed with the Koleos, which is let down by the Nissan X-Trail powertrains. This is a shame because they do a reasonable good job in the X-Trail itself.

In the Koleos, the 2.5-litre petrol engine and CVT auto are slow to react when you need to accelerate quickly such as when overtaking. On steep and winding roads it tends to hunt around a lot as it searches for the right gear ratio, with the engine making plenty of noise in the process.

The Koleos handles surefootedly, both on and off paved roads: it shrugs off potholes and big lumps with ease, and handles its weight well in corners. The ride can feel a touch fidgety on smaller bumps and corrugations, particularly on the bigger diameter wheels, but otherwise it has a comfortable and capable suspension tune.

All-wheel-drive Koleos’ are capable of light off-tarmac duty such as snowy roads or dirt tracks. You can lock-in an even power distribution between the front and rear axles at speeds under 40km/h, which might help you when it’s very slippery.

How is life in the rear seats?

There’s enough space for a couple of adults (or three kids). There are separate air vents at the back of the centre console, and the Intens features pair of rear USB outlets to keep phones and tablets charged up.

How is the Koleos for carrying stuff?

Boot space is 458 litres with the seats up and a total of 1690 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down and cargo stacked to the roofliner.

Towing capacity for the petrol models is 2000kg braked, which will let you tow a decent-sized trailer. The diesel model tows just 1650kg, despite the extra power and torque.

Where is the Koleos made?

All Renault Koleos variants are made in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Maybe more grunt from a turbocharged petrol engine, such as you can get with a Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Escape, Holden Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008 or Subaru Forester.

A seven-seat option, as available with the Nissan X-Trail, and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Other medium SUVs to consider include the Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and the Toyota RAV4.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

If you're happy with 4x2 traction, the Zen is the sweet spot in terms of pricing and equipment levels, with or without the all-wheel drive.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

The current, second-generation Renault Koleos arrived in September 2016, with a petrol only range consisting of the Life, Zen and Intens specification grades.

The turbo diesel Intens was added to the line-up in September 2017.

In February 2018, a special edition Koleos Initiale was temporarily added to the top of the range featuring additional equipment and stunning Black Amethyst (dark purple) paint option.

In April 2018, Renault Australia rolled out auto braking as standard across the range, and introduced Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to its infotainment packages.

In September 2019, Renault introduced a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and three-year/90.000km free servicing for the 2019 Koleos. MY18 and MY17 models were also included, but from the date they were first registered.

In November 2019, Renault revealed the 2020 Koleos range that received a slight front-end facelift and did away with the diesel powertrain. The warranty for 2020 models reverted to five years as part of the brand's ‘5:5:5 Easy Life Ownership Program’ that includes the warranty, five-year capped servicing, and five years' free roadside assist membership.